More like this, please

Uh, that was a ridiculously great long weekend.

Friday: we saw an amazing Japandroids concert (seriously, one of the best value-for-money shows I’ve ever seen) and had a late dinner at The Auld Spot.

Saturday: we drove to Beamsville in the beautiful sunny weather to sample wine and eat raclette at Hidden Bench, then do more tastings at Foreign Affair and Megalomaniac before heading home and getting fancy for dinner at The Chase. We had Perrier-Jouet Champagne and buratta, and scallops + pork belly with Chardonnay and Nebbiolo, and duck (me) and lobster cavatelli (Lindsay) with a fantastic bottle of Sangiovese. Dessert was a slightly disappointing (for me, anyway) honey pastry, but I came home and had some 1986 Don P.X. to make up for it.

Sunday: we were a little slow-moving, honestly, so not much happened until we had a halfway-decent-for-us lunch at b.good and a pint at Beerbistro before going home to watch Going Clear (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Unfortunately we ended the day with a somewhat gross AYCE sushi dinner that night at Fushimi.

Monday: we hung out in my (almost) new hood, hitting Boxcar Social for beers, L’il Baci for brunch (spicy pork balls, turducken balls, cocktails), Ed’s Real Scoop for ice cream, and Mercury for cortados. That night we made pasta we’d picked up at the market, and it was freaking delicious.

Whadda weekend.

 

 

Bunnahabhain

Last night I went to the first (my first, anyway) in a series of whisky tastings at Boxcar Social. A while back I met the whisky director there, and he told me they’d be running events. Lo and behold, they did, and I came. It was probably a little beginner-y for me, but still worth it to help me structure my thoughts and notes about different whiskies.

We tried:

Throughout the evening they also brought out charcuterie boards and special pairings, like chocolate with the Nikka and a beautiful espresso (from Anchored, in Dartmouth!) with the Bunnahabhain.

Not a bad way to spend an evening, really. I’m interested to see what comes next in the series.

 

Cover photo from NAO’s site

New And Old

I’ve been intrigued by NAO Steakhouse — a Japanese-influenced steak place, in an old Yorkville house that used to be Boba — ever since it opened. A friend used to work there, but we never quite made it in during her tenure, and for whatever reason we just hadn’t gotten around to making reservations. This week was a tiring one at work though, so we decided on Thursday to try a new place to end the week on a fun note. So we landed here.

First we stopped in at Boxcar Social for an espresso and some drinks. I like that I can get great versions of both there.

Then, on to NAO. It’s a cool space, and they gave us a nice corner on the banquette, the feel of the place was a hit. And the food? Outstanding. The Japanese influence lent a little something to the typical steak experience, but the steak itself was top-notch. I also really liked the wine selection…not the kind of 4-pound wine list that confounds or overwhelms, but well-organized and well-thought-out. We tried to get a bottle of Rustenberg from South Africa, but someone snagged the last bottle just before we did. Instead we got a Chilean Carmenere/Cab blend that wasn’t on the list, which worked out just fine indeed.

Our meal:

  • Blanc de Blanc // Pearl Morissette Chardonnay
  • Hamachi with jalapeño and yuzu // Oysters from BC and PEI
  • 22oz swinging rib Canadian prime (Norwich, ON)
  • Broccolini with soy, chili, and garlic

Consider it added to the favourites section of my list.

.:.

Cover photo from NAO’s site

George Howell / Guatemala Puerto Verde: Cocoa, Apple, Panela

The plan last night was to keep it simple.

We tried, we really did.

We stopped in at Monk’s Table after work for dinner and a pint. That turned into dinner and three pints. So, okay. A little more than planned, but still under control.

The weather was perfect when we left, so we decided to walk at least down to Rosedale station before getting on the subway. That led us right past Boxcar Social, which I’ve been telling Nellie about. We stopped in; my plan was only to have an espresso to wake up a little. I was soon enticed by something their offer of a Whiskey Tango: two pairings of espresso and bourbon. Uh…HOW HAVE I NOT HEARD ABOUT THIS BEFORE??!?!!?!?

The first espresso was unbelievable: a lightly roasted Guatemalan that featured everything I love about Central American coffee. It was followed by half an ounce of Blanton’s original bourbon, which sort of became my new favourite on the spot. Then, after a little water, I got into the next espresso, which was Kenyan, and it reminded me that I tend to not like Kenyan coffee. That was followed by (if I remember right) Baker’s 7. That was followed by a glass of Evan Williams while Nellie drank some kind of weird small-cask Oban called “Little Bay”. And then THAT was followed by a Dieu Du Ciel Aphrodite. Then we lazy-cabbed home.

So it turned into a whole thing. I feel surprisingly okay this morning, especially considering I woke up at 6am and couldn’t get back to sleep. Let’s see if I’m in any way productive though…

Cover photo by Thiophene_Guy, used under Creative Commons license

Boxcar & Bellwoods & balcony

I will admit that I enjoy my team at work thinking that I have some kind of superpower for finding cool places. I introduced them all to 9 Bars and Monk’s Table, and have taken them to places like Dineen Coffee and Wvrst and Bar Hop, so they think I have some kind of talent. Truth: it’s just an internet connection and mild obsession. But when I brought them all to Boxcar Social yesterday after work, they really thought I had magical powers. Great coffee by day, good beer/wine/whisky selection by night, and relaxed backyard-feeling space all day.

My team drank cider and Muskoka. I, and others, drank Bellwoods: the Wizard Wolf, the Monogamy (Summit), the Omerta. The Omerta actually showed up while I was drinking the other two — nothing like just-in-time delivery.

More just-in-time: Nellie and I coordinated a pick-up order of some pizzas at Mercatto, which showed up just as I walked in the door, and which we enjoyed during a quiet night at home. We ate, and drank wine on the balcony, and started the kind of quiet weekend we’ve craved for a while now.

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.:.

Cover photo by Thiophene_Guy, used under Creative Commons license